Power Girl: Bomb Squad is ostensibly a tie-in to Winick's Justice League: Generation Lost; the ties here are better than in that series' other companion, Booster Gold: Past Imperfect, but still I'm skeptical how much Power Girl adds. Bomb Squad's approach is more to my liking than Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's previous take on Power Girl, but the plot's both thin and decompressed, hence the sense that this is mostly filler until the end.
Palmiotti, Gray, and artist Amanda Connor's much-acclaimed Power Girl stories can best be described as "fun loving"; there was superhero action, but also a bunch of Power Girl Kara Zor-L hanging out with friend Terra and helping a high school loner make some friends -- not silly, necessarily, but with a humorous bent. Winick's Power Girl is still sarcastic, and her banter makes up much of the humor of the book, but Winick approaches things much more straightforward -- her villains are certainly tougher, with no sense Kara will sweetly turn enemies into allies as she did at the end of Palmiotti and Gray's stories.
Also, with no slight intended to Connor's boisterous, cartoony, and uniquely original take on the DC Universe, apparent newcomer Sami Basri absolutely knocks the art out of the park in this book. His work is still loose enough to depict Power Girl's funny moments, but he also draws rather photo-realistic faces that, especially with Kara herself, display marked seriousness at key moments (see, for instance, the funeral scene). Basri is next to work on the DC Relaunch's Voodoo after Power Girl, and that makes my interest in said book that much greater.
Yet, while I might appreciate Winick's more serious approach to Power Girl, precious little actually takes place in this book. The first issue mostly follows alongside the beginning of Generation Lost; the second and third are an over-long fight with Power Girl's new enemy C.R.A.S.H.; the fourth sets up Power Girl with a new status quo and headquarters; and the fifth and sixth are another elongated fight scene. Within these pages there's drama and story growth -- Kara loses her company, mourns the death of a friend, and gains a sidekick, with guest appearances by Mr. Terrific, Booster Gold, and Batman Dick Grayson -- but it's shoe-horned in two of six issues with too much space given over to rudimentary punching and kicking.
Power Girl's main foe in these pages is Generation Lost's Maxwell Lord, and Winick makes a slick transition from Palmiotti and Gray's run to his own by having Max essentially dissolve Kara's research company; Winick ties off one hanging thread from the previous books by having Max kill the employee who's ex-husband might've become Power Girl's enemy. I felt, however, that Winick's wiping the slate in this way did the Power Girl character a continued disservice. I mentioned in my review of Power Girl: A New Beginning that, despite Kara owning a scientific research firm, she seemed to known nearly nothing about said research, contrasted with Mr. Terrific in James Robinson's Justice League: Dark Things touting Power Girl's extensive scientific knowledge.
Now Winick -- with no harm intended, I'm sure -- not only removes Kara from the company, but also saddles her with a techno-geek sidekick, as if to further suggest this character can't be both brawny and brainy. I know the upcoming DC Relaunch Batgirl remains controversial, but hopefully one thing it will achieve is to combine the above elements. Superheroic women tend to be brawny, with someone else doing the thinking (Power Girl, here, and my much-beloved Manhunter Kate Spencer, I have to say, for another) or "geeky" and in-the-shadows (Oracle and the Question Renee Montoya) -- maybe the "new" Batgirl can epitomize both Power Girl's flamboyant brazenness and her partner Nicholas Cho's technical know-how all in one.
There's nine more issues of Power Girl to go before the end of this series and the DC Comics relaunch. Likely I'll be there for it, both as a general fan of Judd Winick's other work and for whatever ties to Generation Lost may be down the road, though admittedly I don't expect much. Max Lord appears on screen here more than he does in Booster Gold: Past Imperfect, but we don't learn more about Lord's overall plan than what's recapitulated by Power Girl in Generation Lost, and indeed those events are something that could just as easily have happened off-screen as to be shunted to Power Girl: Bomb Squad. With the end in sight, I'm skeptical Winick can really bring anything more to the series; rather I expect more of the same -- which is, not to downplay this, at least a serious and generally respectful take on the character -- before the conclusion.
[Includes original covers]
Next week, we're returning to the Bat-verse with Red Robin and Bruce Wayne's return home. Be there!